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DRINKING & NIGHTLIFE IN SINGAPORE

 
The Regent Singapore
Orchard Road Shops / Singapore
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£58.82-£187.73
Traders Hotel Singapore
City Center / Singapore
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£54.76-£134.54
Quality Hotel Singapore
Singapore / Singapore
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£22.52-£265.96
Fraser Suites Singapore
Singapore / Singapore
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£63.83-£2,180.85
Copthorne King's Hotel
Downtown / Singapore
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£43.80-£150.18
Sheraton Towers Singapore
Downtown / Singapore
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£70.40-£312.89
Grand Hyatt Singapore
Singapore / Singapore
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£78.22-£172.09

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Singapore's burgeoning bar and pub scene means there is now a wide range of drinking holes to choose from, with the Colonial District, Boat Quay and Orchard Road areas offering particularly good pub crawl potential. With competition hotting up, more and more bars are turning to live music to woo punters, though this is usually no more than cover versions performed by local bands. Clubs also do brisk business; glitzy yet unpretentious, they feature the latest imported pop, rock and dance music, though don't expect anything like a rave scene - Ecstasy isn't in the Singaporean dictionary.
Bars and pubs
It's possible to buy a small glass of beer in most bars and pubs for around S$5, but prices can be double or treble that, especially in the Orchard Road district. During Happy Hour in the early evening, bars offer local beers and house wine either at half price, or "one for one" - you get two of whatever you order, but one is held back for later. Most places close around midnight (a bit later on Friday and Saturday nights).

Anywhere , 04-08/09 Tanglin Shopping Centre, 19 Tanglin Rd, near Orchard Rd. Tania, Singapore's most famous covers band, plays nightly to a boozy roomful of expats that's at its rowdiest on Friday nights. Happy Hour Mon-Fri 6-8pm; open Mon-Sat 6pm-2am.

Bernie Goes to Town , 82a/b Boat Quay (tel 536 3533). Reggae, blues and R&B are the preferred sounds at this laid-back, roadhouse-style joint. Mon-Thurs & Sun 11am-1am, Fri & Sat 3pm-3am.

Bar and Billiards Room , Raffles Hotel, 1 Beach Rd. A Singapore Sling (S$17), in the colonial elegance of the hotel where it was invented in 1915, is required drinking on a visit to Singapore. Daily 11.30am-midnight.

Crazy Elephant , 01-07 Trader's Market, Clarke Quay. Clarke Quay's best bar, playing decent rock music on the turntable between live sessions by the house band. Try to nab a table out by the water's edge. Mon-Thur & Sun 5pm-1am, Fri & Sat 5pm-2am.

Compass Rose Bar , 70th Floor, Westin Stamford Hotel, 2 Stamford Rd. Tasteful bar from whose floor-to-ceiling windows you can see as far as southern Malaysia. Happy Hour 5.30-8.30pm; minimum charge S$15 after 8.30pm. Daily 11am-12.30am.

Excalibur Pub , B1-06 Tanglin Shopping Centre, 19 Tanglin Rd, near Orchard Rd. Wonderfully cluttered and cramped British-style pub that's full of weatherbeaten expats. Daily 11am-10.30pm.

Harry's Quayside , 28 Boat Quay (tel 5383029). Live jazz Wednesday to Saturday, and a blues jam on Sunday evening.

Ice Cold Beer , 9 Emerald Hill, off Orchard Road. Noisy, hectic and happening place; the lamentable upstairs den is best avoided; Happy Hour daily 5-9pm, and there are regular promotions. Daily 5pm-midnight.

Lot, Stock and Barrel Pub , 29 Seah St, Colonial District. Frequented by an early office crowd and a late backpacker crowd (Beach Road's homestays are just around the corner), who come for the rock classics on the jukebox. Happy Hour 4-8pm; open 4pm-midnight.

Saxophone , 23 Cuppage Rd, near Orchard Road. The coollest address in town, and a magnet for the beautiful people, who relax on the terrace to the sounds of the house jazz band. Expensive. Happy Hour (6-8pm). Daily 6pm-2am.

The Yard , 294 River Valley Rd. Busy English pub with bar snacks available with a 3-8pm Happy Hour. Daily 3pm-midnight.



Clubs
Unlike their London and New York counterparts, Singaporean clubs are refreshingly naive, their customers more intent on enjoying themselves than on posing. European and American dance music dominates, and many feature live cover bands. Clubs tend to open around 9pm, and most have a cover charge of S$10-30, at least on weekends. Singapore also has a plethora of extremely seedy, extortionately priced hostess clubs, worked by aged Chinese hostesses.

Boom Boom Room , 02-04, 3 New Bugis St (tel 339 8187). The comedy and dance on show every night is tame by old Bugis Street standards, though still well attended and enjoyed by locals and tourists. Cover charge Tues-Sat; 9pm-2am.

Fire Disco , 04-19 Orchard Plaza, 150 Orchard Rd (tel 235 0155). A mixed bag: downstairs is teenybopper paradise; upstairs, cult Singapore covers band Energy plays nightly. Daily 8pm-3am.

Sparks Disco , seventh floor, Ngee Ann City, 391 Orchard Rd (tel 735 6133). Soccer pitch-sized and multi-chambered nightspot aimed at the yuppie market. Live bands play jazz, pop and Canto-pop. Daily Mon-Sat 6pm-3am.

Sugar , 13 Mohamed Sultan Rd (tel 836 8010). Currently one of Singapore's coollest nightspots: most of the dancing goes on out back, where Singapore's beautiful people get down to house and garage. Mon-Sat 8pm-3am.

Sultan of Swing , 01-01 Central Mall, 5 Magazine Rd (tel 557 0828). Singapore's trendiest and most talked about disco, drawing a large enough crowd of young executives to fill the huge dance floor that lies behind the quieter wine bar out front. Daily 5pm-2am.

Zouk , 17-21 Jiak Kim St (tel 738 2988). Singapore's trendiest club, where world-renowned DJs like Paul Oakenfold guest occasionally. Happy Hour 8-9pm; open Mon-Sat 6pm-3am.



Traditional entertainment
If you walk around Singapore's streets for long enough, you're likely to come across some sort of streetside cultural event , most usually a wayang , or Chinese opera, played out on tumbledown outdoor stages that spring up overnight next to temples and markets, or just at the side of the road. Wayangs are highly dramatic and stylized affairs, in which garishly made-up and costumed characters enact popular Chinese legends to the accompaniment of the crashes of cymbals and gongs. Wayangs take place throughout the year, but the best time to catch one is during the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts , when they are held to entertain passing spooks, or during the Festival of the Nine Emperor Gods. The STB may also be able to help you track down a wayang, and as usual the local press is worth checking, or you could pop along to the Chinese Opera Teahouse, 5 Smith St (tel 323 4862), where S$15 buys you Chinese tea and an opera performance with English subtitles. Another fascinating traditional performance, lion dancing , takes to the streets during Chinese New Year, as do puppet theatres .

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